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Odds and Ends

PL Best Bets: Villa take on slumping Newcastle

by Brad Thomas
Updated On: January 22, 2021, 9:41 pm ET

This week's Premier League action has shown that even top-ranked teams are susceptible to the occasional disappointing outing. Fourth-placed Liverpool suffered a shocking 1-0 loss at home to 16th-placed Burnley on a late penalty kick, while Chelsea manager Frank Lampard might be on the hot seat after an uninspiring, 2-0 loss to Leicester City. These days, no one is safe.

Each week I'll break down the Premier League action from a betting perspective, digging through information pertinent to bettors and offering my take on particular matchups. With a full slate of FA Cup fixtures this weekend, I'll focus on a single PL match that presents some value. As always, all odds can be found via PointsBet Sportsbook:

Newcastle United at Aston Villa (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET)

Line: Aston Villa -1 (-120), Newcastle United +1 (+105)

Aston Villa finally took the pitch at full strength against Manchester City after dealing with COVID-19 issues for the past two weeks. The Villains fell to the tune of 2-0, but the addition of Ross Barkley was a welcome sight for fans. Barkley picked up right where he left off with some stellar play, and although they failed to score against City, their defense held up and was able to ward off 26 of 28 total shots.

Had it not been for a handball in the 90th minute, Aston Villa would've covered the +1.5-goal spread. There are good losses and bad losses in sports, and a hard-fought outing against one of the league leaders is something Dean Smith will attempt to build upon with his squad.

This is a pivotal fixture against Newcastle, as Villa have slid to 12th on the table with three consecutive defeats. Luckily for them, these next two fixtures could be the start of an unbeaten streak that could plausibly stretch to five in a row.

Newcastle United are in a slump of their own, having lost their last three EPL fixtures. Newcastle have not won a match in any competition in over a month, a drought that has included seven defeats. During that span, Newcastle have been outscored by a 17-3 margin.

Newcastle have struggled to start games well, as they rank 19th in the league in goals per first half (0.2). It's been their defense that has helped them stay in the contest to start the game, as they are fifth in goals allowed in the first half (0.5).

On the other side of the pitch, Aston Villa's first-half defense is elite. They love to counter, but they also transition back to defense well and are fourth in goals allowed in the first half with just eight such tallies across 16 matches.

As a result, there are two wagers that have caught my attention. The first is the exact halftime score 0-0 (+245), which is a prop that I'll put a small amount on given the defensive trends of both teams. Given the amount of juice (-200) for an outright win by Villa, I will also be taking Aston Villa -1 (-120).

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Brad Thomas

Brad is a sports handicapper who is lucky enough to write about his true love; sports. "We may all root for different teams, but our objective remains the same… Beat the books! Remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint." Follow Brad on Twitter @MrBradThomas.